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Home > The Last of Us: Part II (2020): A Review

The Last of Us: Part II (2020): A Review

Last of Us Part II

Part II is a Technical and Artistic Marvel

Protagonist Ellie Williams waits in tall grass as a hunting dog sniffs past, leashed to the wrist of a man in the Washington Liberation Front. “She’s not here!” the man shouts to his friends, scanning the area. “Find where she’s hiding.” 

The trap mine that detonates in the next seconds destroys the lower half of the man and knocks both him and his dog backwards in an explosion of smoke and blood. 

The Last of Us: Part II is frightening.

Scientifically timed jump scares, blood-soaked imagery, and a cast of dangerous and intelligent enemies are inevitabilities to the experience. Every aspect of The Last of Us: Part II serves to ground players within its vicious world and unrelenting narrative.

After an act of traumatic violence, Ellie and friends commit to a campaign for justice, leaving the safety and stability of their community in Jackson, Wyoming, for the war-torn streets of Seattle, Washington, in search of retribution.

Immediately obvious from the first frame of the game to the last — The Last of Us: Part II eclipses competitors in terms of production values and technical accomplishment. 

Waves crash and river down rocks. Headshots splatter walls in sliding brain matter. From start to finish, settings, character models and animation work achieve breathtaking levels of scale and detail. Meticulous audio engineering immerses players into The Last of Us: Part II’s varied environments, from an echoic underground train station to a thundering and stormy waterfront. Every element of The Last of Us: Part II’s presentation showcases artistic perfectionism, and an absolutely massive budget.

Last of Us Part II

Gameplay retains the simplicity of its predecessor’s third-person, cover-based shooting, though noticeably choosing to expand on its traversal options and melee mechanics in particular. Sprawling arenas force players to improvise and outsmart intelligent and unpredictable AI that coordinate effectively to hunt you down. Make a mistake and combat scenarios devolve into frantic gunfights and brutal close-quarters violence. It reflects a rare quality of unscripted mayhem; and cracking a man’s forehead open with a baseball bat feels shocking every time.

Narratively, co-writers Neil Druckmann and Halley Gross use a complex nonlinear story structure that interrogates character and player and medium, exhausting players emotionally and mentally. The impact of a sudden perspective switch hits harder than any act of violence.

In its cutscenes, The Last of Us: Part II’s filmmaking rivals that of expensive television, with beautiful cinematography, editing and direction. A scene involving the attempted hanging of a character done in one-take serves as a clear standout. The cast tackle the material with emotional conviction, and the facial animation technology on display reads true-to-life.

The Last of Us: Part II interests itself in the unique advantages of the video game as a storytelling medium to invest players within characters’ experiences. Players experience the hardest and the best of times in characters’ lives, and control the actions that take lives also. 

The Last of Us: Part II rises to the challenge of succeeding its critically acclaimed predecessor with a cruel, and ultimately beautiful story about loss, vengeance and forgiveness. It is a technical and artistic marvel, presenting a fully-realized world in stunning detail and committing to multiple, paradigm-shifting narrative risks. It pushes the medium of video games in bold, innovative directions.

Last of Us Part II

The Last of Us: Part II (2020) Official PS4 Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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